RECAP: Diversifying Institutional Design and Construction

Posted By: Chris Rogan Education, Membership, News,

On June 22, 2023, the COAA Illinois Chapter and INOMA, led by Ashlen Williams, partnered and held an event in Chicago, Illinois discussing Diversifying Institutional Design and Construction.  INOMA’s mission, rooted in a rich legacy of activism, is to empower local chapters and membership to foster justice and equity in communities of color through outreach, community advocacy, professional development, and design excellence.

The moderator was Julia De Rosi (GSA) and the panelists consisted of the following:  Michael Houston (BOWA Construction), Matt MacRaild (Cleveland Clinic), Krystal McDoom (University of Chicago) and Ann Panopio (IFF).

This session provided attendees with perspective from construction industry leaders, generating a candid dialogue about the importance of diversifying the design and construction industry and inform the audience how to develop and deliver on DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access) strategy. 

Key points during this event included:

  • Why Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access are distinct
  • Diversity and performance are positively correlated
  • Numbers tell a story: Statistics on suicide rates, gender, race and ethnicity
  • Industry/OAEC lack of diversity and how to change: 
      • Holistic approach to create an inclusive workplace
      • Recruitment Strategies
      • Training our workforce: diversity and inclusion training at all levels
  • Creating a culture of respect, trust, communication, transparency, and a drive to help each other
  • Understanding BIPOC nomenclature (Black, Indigenous, People Of Color)
  • Getting more student workers involved with design and construction
  • Words and giving people an opportunity MATTER!  Creating access and building relationships with BIPOC and underrepresented people in our communities with different perspectives.
  • “If you can see it, you can do it”.  Expose the younger generation to design and construction and they will believe that it is within their reach and abilities.
  • Address the mindset of peoples culture often for inclusion and not status quo.

We are excited to have had this event to open doors for further communication between panelists, attendees and attending organizations to work with each other to increase the numbers of diverse workforce in design and construction.

The sponsors of this event were IMEG, Cannon and K&L Gates which COAA Illinois and NOMA are very appreciative for their support in enabling this community event to occur.